Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Disney Cruise - Day Six: Rome!

Our next port was La Citavecchia, and our next port adventure was Rome! I had been looking forward to this stop the most, probably. Although I lived in Italy for a few years in high school, I never made it down to Rome, so I was eager to finally see the eternal city.

We went to The Coliseum, of course. As we approached the more ancient parts of Rome, I began to wonder if the Coliseum would live up to my expectations. I've heard so many people come away from Stonehenge disappointed. It doesn't seem as big as people seem to expect, and in the end it's just a pile of rocks. (By the way, I thought Stonehenge was pretty cool. But I think I'm in the minority there.)

Fortunately, the Coliseum lived up to my expectations. It was pretty huge! It was also pretty crowded.

This rather unimpressive picture is just to show some of the original, remaining marble floor. Our tour guide told us that the whole Coliseum used to have white marble face. I can't imagine how majestic it must have been in its glory (err, gory?) days.

We left the Coliseum in time for lunch, and along the way passed this majestic monument. Isn't it gorgeous?

After the Coliseum, we had a pre-arranged lunch somewhere in Rome. We had pasta and veal, plenty of bread and, of course, wine. But most important? The tiramisu we had afterwords!

Holy gravy train, this was good tiramisu. You know how you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince sometimes? Italian food is that way. I had to try a lot of tiramisus (and gelato for that matter) to find the ones that made me think of my days as a teen at Aviano AFB. I've spent many years trying tiramisus all over the world. While a few have held up, most end up being disappointing. Fortunately, I was able to get an amazing piece of tiramisu at this restaurant (with a complimentary espresso!) My hunt for great gelato was still on at this point.

Our next stop was Vatican City! I was very excited for this. (I realize I keep saying that, but it's true!) I've always wanted to visit the Vatican, but having recently seen Angels and Demons (the Dan Brown movie), I was even more eager to see this beautiful principality. The cinematography of Vatican City in that movie was just breathtaking, and I couldn't wait to experience it for myself!

We wandered through the Vatican Museum first. Okay, wandered isn't the right word. We practically jogged to keep up with our tour guide flying past sculptures and tapestries. Like everywhere else in Rome, it was so crowded.

But it was also beautiful. There was an entire ceiling in one of the galleries with frescoes like this one. It looked like a bas relief, but it was actually painted! A whole long gallery like that. It was amazing.

As beautiful as everything inside the Vatican Museum is, the goal is to get to the end where the Sistine Chapel waits. As much as I keep saying "I was looking forward to this, " I really was looking forward to seeing the Sistine Chapel!

Our tour guide had warned us that we were not allowed to talk in the Sistine Chapel. The radio headsets we wore to hear her would have to be turned off for our time in the chapel. She said the guards were very strict about this and about the no photography rule. As busy and crazy as the rest of Rome was, the idea of standing still inside a silent chapel under the masterpiece of Michelangelo was awe-inspiring. I was really looking forward to a sacred experience.

Unfortunately, it was anything but. The small chapel was swarming with people, and everyone was talking! Granted, they were talking more quietly than in the rest of the museum, but I thought the whole point was to shut up and experience the moment, not talk about it! Additionally people were taking pictures...with flashes!
***We interrupt this regularly scheduled blog with a public service announcement. If you are one of the dingalings who insists on taking pictures when pictures aren't allowed, then at least don't be the kind of idiot who uses flash when it's strictly prohibited. It's not allowed for a reason, doofus. TURN IT OFF. If you don't, I'll be tempted to turn you off! No kidding. How hard is it in 2010 to turn off your flash? Not hard at all. Unless you want to experience your camera being thumped on your head repeatedly, follow the rules! Thank you. We will now resume regular blogging***
Anyway, the whole experience was a bit of a let down. Don't get me wrong, the chapel was beautiful. But I was looking for a sacred moment, or at least a quiet moment of serious appreciation, and instead all I got was a teeth full of tourists. Blargh!
After the Sistine Chapel, we got to explore St Peter's Basilica. While crowded, it was also huge, so the people thinned out a bit. And photography was allowed, because the artwork was all sculptures and mosaics. St Peter's was gorgeous. (I know, I'm being super redundant here, but it's ROME!)
St Peter's is one of those churches that has an impressive (but not really beautiful) exterior. And then you step inside, and all you can say is, "Woah."
As I'm blogging, I'm searching through my pictures for the perfect woah-inducing shot and realizing I just don't have one. So let me say this. My pictures and words do it no justice. I'm not a photographer. I'm not even a very good blogger! But trust me, it was beautiful. As one example, here was one of my favorite sculptures in the basilica, sculpted by Bernini.

Our tour did not include the catacombs beneath the basilica, which would have been cool. But here are the stairs leading down to the catacombs in the middle of the basilica.

Another one of my favorite pieces of art in the basilica was this one. At first glance you'd swear it was a painting. The colors and details were so vivid!

But on closer look, it's a mosaic! Amazing what they can do with tiny stones.

Rome was really amazing. My only complaint is that we didn't have enough time to see more. And as was standard with all port adventures, there wasn't enough free time. These tours can be exhausting!

At the end of the day, though, I'm really glad I finally got to see Rome and that I got to share it with my favorite boys.


  1. I have so much to say about this!

    1. The Coliseum really is way huger than you'd think it is. It was the only place I was really glad I took a tour.

    2. That monument is to Vittorio Emanuele II who unified the Italian regions into a country in the 1800s.

    3. The tiramisu there is incredible. I hope you had some pizza. Did you ever have gelato?!

    4. Wasn't it grueling climbing all of those freaking stairs in the Vatican Museum? I just kept huffing it and telling myself I'd get to see the Sistine Chapel. No one told me you weren't supposed to talk in there, so you can imagine my surprise (and silent hilarity) at the uniformed guys whose only purpose in there seems to be shushing people. Also, PLEASE tell me you saw the Vatican guard in the rainbow hammer pants!

    6. Wasn't the Pieta unimaginably beautiful? I hate that it's behind glass because some whack job decided to try to destroy it in the 70s. The worst part of coming home with pictures is that you can never communicate the hugeness of, say, St. Peter's or the Pantheon. Amazing.

    I have a lot more to say, but I'm on vacation, myself. We'll talk later!

  2. Sorry I havent' responded yet, Jenni!
    1.) The Coliseum was huge!

    2.) It was such a beautiful monument. Wish I had gotten a better picture.

    3.) We had no pizza, and I could just shoot myself for this! The tiramisu was amazing at this stop. We had some at the next stop that was just, "Eh." And yes, I did finally get good gelato in Florence!

    4.)I don't even remember the stairs in the Vatican Museum! Is that weird? But I did see rainbow hammer pants. Awesome!

    5.) ??

    6.) The Pieta was so gorgeous and so unbeleivably crowed. Stupid Rome with all its stupid vistors!

    I'll have to call you soon so we can talk Italy!